As much as I love a good travel book that I can sink into for hours at a time, or even a long piece of travel narrative like those found in AFAR, which I absolutely adore, that’s not always the kind of travel writing I seek. When I had the opportunity to subscribe to Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine about a year ago for just a few dollars, I jumped on board to give it a read. It turns out that I like it.
I don’t read Budget Travel for in-depth insight on places or people around the world. Instead, I love the quick reads that provide easy-to-digest travel information, reviews and ideas. It’s the kind of magazine I can flip through while eating a bowl of cereal, taking in bite-sized pieces of travel-related tidbits that I can pass off or research more thoroughly on my own at a later time. It’s not the end-all, be-all to plan a trip, but it’s the place where I find the little hints that get me interested in learning more.
Budget Travel is, in many ways, a monthly compact travel guide of service journalism. It’s designed for people who want to travel cheaply, so you won’t find pages of luxurious resorts or pricey spas. What you will find are ways to have those dream vacations on the average person’s budget. As such, the magazine often exposes accommodations and attractions that you might otherwise have written off as over budget or not discovered at all. One of the best features of the magazine is called Real Deal, and it’s hidden in the back pages of the magazine. This is where staffers have compiled a list of vacation packages that are a steal, and then they explain why they’re a good deal. Though I’ve never booked one of these trips, I recognize the names of many of the vacation companies offering them and wouldn’t hesitate to take one if it was a good fit for me.
Though I generally read most of the magazine, there are a few other sections of Budget Travel that I particularly enjoy. “Confessions of a … ” is a fun (and often funny) inside look at the job of someone working within the travel industry. “Road Trip” is my favorite section. In it, a short road trip, normally two to four days and a few hundred miles, is outlined with noteworthy stops for things to do and eat (plus tips on where to stay). These aren’t usually your typical road trips on Route 66 or California’s Pacific Coast Highway (though occasionally they do cover a popular drive). These are generally routes on lesser traveled roads through lesser known towns. I keep filing them away, thinking that someday I might follow in the tire tracks.
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